The state of Maryland currently recognizes two types of legal divorce actions. The “limited divorce”, sometimes referred to as legal separation in other states, allows couples to separate and while also determining some important decisions that require immediate attention. Limited divorces generally occur in situations where the parties are unable to independently resolve their differences and have not yet obtained the grounds required for an absolute divorce.
Limited divorces are also useful in cases where one party requires financial relief of some kind. In a limited divorce, couples must live separately for at least 12 months and refrain from engaging in sexual relations. The court maintains supervision of the divorce during this period. During that separation year, a court can also make determinations regarding which party is at fault for the divorce, specify which party will have custody of the children, resolve alimony issues and make other important financial decisions. It is important to note that couples are still legally married during this period and thus extramarital affairs are considered adultery.
The second type of divorce in Maryland is known as the “absolute divorce”. It is the most common types of divorce because they can be sought in cases where couples have no property to divide and there is no need for spousal support. Unlike a limited divorce, the absolute divorce is a total dissolution of marriage. This means that couples are free to remarry once the divorce decree is finalized.
Is important to know that couples are not required to get a limited divorce prior to seeking an absolute divorce, although the court may decide to order a limited divorce in some circumstances.
If you are currently wrestling with the decision to end your marriage, you should know that your Maryland family law attorney can help guide you through that process. The decision to divorce is never an easy one to make, but planning a sound divorce strategy now can prevent a multitude of problems further down the road.
Source: The People’s Law Library of Maryland, “Overview of Divorce in Maryland” Dec. 18, 2014